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Purification of the Major Outer Membrane Protein of Azospirillum brasilense, Its Affinity to Plant Roots, and Its Involvement in Cell Aggregation

April 2001 , Volume 14 , Number  4
Pages  555 - 561

Saul Burdman , 1 Gabriella Dulguerova , 2 Yaacov Okon , 1 and Edouard Jurkevitch 1

1Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology and the Otto Warburg Center for Agricultural Biotechnology, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, P. O. Box 12, Rehovot 76100, Israel; 2Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Medicine, Medical University, 1431 Sofia, Bulgaria

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Accepted 12 December 2000.

The major outer membrane protein (MOMP) of the nitrogen-fixing rhizobacterium Azospirillum brasilense strain Cd was purified and isolated by gel filtration, and antiserum against this protein was obtained. A screening of the binding of outer membrane proteins (OMPs) of A. brasilense to membrane-immobilized root extracts of various plant species revealed different affinities for the MOMP, with a stronger adhesion to extracts of cereals in comparison with legumes and tomatoes. Moreover, this protein was shown to bind to roots of different cereal seedlings in an in vitro adhesion assay. Incubation of A. brasilense cells with MOMP-antiserum led to fast agglutination, indicating that the MOMP is a surface-exposed protein. Cells incubated with Fab fragments obtained from purified MOMP-antiserum immunoglobulin G exhibited significant inhibition of bacterial aggregation as compared with controls. Bacteria preincubated with Fab fragments showed weaker adhesion to corn roots in comparison to controls without Fab fragments. These findings suggest that the A. brasilense MOMP acts as an adhesin involved in root adsorption and cell aggregation of this bacterium.

Additional keywords: flocculation, root attachment.

© 2001 The American Phytopathological Society